DANA POINT, Calif. – The David Beckham ownership saga in Miami has dragged on so long that the thousand-day anniversary of the Feb. 5, 2014 announcement of Major League Soccer’s return to South Florida was celebrated last Halloween. OK, the milestone was mocked, but deservedly so.
After nearly six more months of feet=dragging, MLS owners are now getting involved.
On Thursday at the World Congress of Sports, league commissioner Don Garber revealed that “a committee of owners” have come together to “evaluate what’s happening in Miami” in regards to Beckham’s stalled expansion team plans, which have been bogged down by an ongoing search for a stadium site. The “very complicated” topic will be discussed further at the league’s Board of Governors meeting in Colorado next week.
Garber praised Beckham, the former Los Angeles Galaxy star, as “a special guy” and said MLS would still “like to see him as an owner in our league” – a sentiment reminiscent of former NBA commissioner David Stern’s insistence that basketball icon Michael Jordan remain in his league as a team owner.
“We are intrigued by the Miami market, but developing stadiums and developing teams and ownership groups is very complicated,” said Garber, while speaking on a panel about “the future of the beautiful game” with U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani.
“In a world with less public funding in large cities, it’s not just complicated. It’s really, really expensive even with a low-cost option with David Beckham and Simon Fuller to have to come into our league. It’s a half-a-billion-dollar project.
“And as we’ve learned – as we’ve been growing our league carefully and in a very strategic way – is that we’d rather wait. And wait and wait on questions like this … before making a bad decision.”
Garber also explained the importance of MLS finally winning the CONCACAF Champions League. He said that, according to a Boston Consulting Group’s assessment, a Champions League winner would give the league the necessary “referential validation” in order to gain “a larger share of the 75 million soccer fans” in America.
“So we’ve got to beat Mexico and continue to invest in our rosters and continue to invest in player development,” the commissioner said. “We were close against Pachuca with Dallas last month. But we’ve got to win that tournament.”
Joe Lago is the editor of FC Yahoo. Follow him on Twitter @joelago.